Best Basketball Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance
Since they were first created by Spalding in 1907, basketball shoes have been a desirable style of athletic footwear that reflected the principles of team spirit, hard work and technological advancement. One of the originals, the iconic Chuck Taylor created by Marquis Converse paved the way for shoes which both players and fans coveted, wanting a shoe that allowed for their skills to shine through. Soon, competitor companies entered the athletic shoe industry with their own versions of performance-oriented shoes, and today you will find that most major sports brands have their own line of basketball shoes.
Basketball shoes, in general, are an exciting type of sneakers, seeing that shoe companies are constantly working to push boundaries by technological innovation and exciting new designs. Staying relevant today means utilizing various materials such as flywire technology, specialized leather, mesh and more, but also giving a lot of attention to shoe configuration. Additionally, basketball shoes serve for more than just on-court performance, seeing that they are one of the most popular styles of athletic shoes found on the streets.
- Nike Kyrie 4
- Flex Groove outsole
- Nike Zoom Air cushioning
- Adidas Harden Vol.2
- Forgefiber upper
- BOOST technology
- Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation Mid
- Full grain leather upper
- Cloudfoam liner
Famed and sponsored basketball players such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose all worked with leading shoe companies in order to create some of the most famous basketball shoes in history. These collaborations are exciting and fresh, seeing not just high-quality shoes designed by professional players in order to achieve their maximum on the court, but they also include fun colorways that make these models unique and highly popular among sneakerheads. In this list, we take a look at the top fifteen best basketball shoes available for purchase in 2018, and evaluate the important aspects and values of each of these models in order to help you choose the pair of basketball shoes that will serve you the best – whether you want to rock them on the court, or display them as part of your b-ball shoe collection.
15 Best Basketball Shoes
1. Nike Kyrie 4
What makes this outsole different from any other on the market is the zigzag cutout that was incorporated to allow for maximum flexibility that does not sacrifice traction or support. Curved outsole edges allow for smoother transitions without losing your grip on the court.
These shoes feature a Nike Zoom Air cushion in the heel that not only absorbs shock but minimizes fatigue without losing control of the forefoot. The upper is made out of equally soft mesh and suede that work together to provide you with a supportive and stable shoe that keeps your ankles protected throughout the game.
Cost and Value
The Kyrie 4 ranks slightly below average regarding cost compared to the other models on this list. It’s a flexible yet durable shoe, and definitely the best in the Kyrie line, which makes it a great investment for those players who are quick on their feet and see plenty of sudden changes in direction when playing.
- Zigzag cutout on outsole
- Premium suede
- Mesh upper
- Nike Zoom Air cushioning
- Ample ankle support
- Runs ½ size small
- Will need to be broken in
2. Adidas Harden Vol.2
The outsole of the Harden Vol.2 was made for quick stops and starts and provides you with excellent traction due to an evolved traction pattern developed for this type of play. Made out of responsive rubber, it will also prove its worth during dynamic lateral movement.
Using TPU-covered textile fibers and heat pressing them allows for this shoe to have an upper that is both flexible and supportive. It’s lightweight and breathable, while the custom lacing system allows you to find the best fit for your foot shape and size.
Cost and Value
Ranking high on this list when it comes to price, the Harden Vol.2 is the most expensive pair of basketball shoes we chose. Although some cheaper models may work just as well as this shoe, you will definitely want to get your hands on these if you are a fan of unique looking kicks that come in several fashionable colorways. The high performance and comfort are expected with the hefty price tag.
- Forgefiber upper
- Unique evolved traction pattern
- BOOST cushioning
- Custom lacing system
- Easy on and off
- Lacks in flexibility for some users
- Works best with very clean courts
3. Nike KDX
The KDX features some of the most responsive cushioning found in basketball shoes, with the incorporation of the Nike Air Zoom technology. The soles of these basketball shoes are made with an ultra-flexible sole that allows your foot to move naturally. A thick heel area cushions with each hard landing, while the thinner forefoot gives you more control over your game.
Zoned Flyknit Upper
The upper of these shoes were made to give you the best possible combination of comfort and support that are highly adaptable and that will hug your feet to provide a superior fit. With plenty of breathability and a sock-like feel, these shoes will feel good on even for prolonged periods of time, while the thick oversized laces give lateral support seeing that they cover even the sides of your foot.
Cost and Value
Most users who opt for the Kevin Durant X fall instantly in love with this pair of shoes. This is mostly due to the way in which the Air Zoom cushioning provides a good balance between shock absorption and control, while the whole wearing experience is made better by a good upper construction and the ease with which these can be put on and off.
- Air Zoom cushioning
- Tongue and heel pull tabs
- Thick heel and thin forefoot sole
- Multi tractioned rubber outsole
- Zoned Flyknit upper
- Viewed by some as inferior to its predecessor
- Some users found it too heavy
4. ANTA KT3
Resembling a fingerprint, the traction pattern on the outsole of the KT3 uses design tested by bigger companies to bring you a pair of basketball shoes that will give you the security and control you need on the court.
The upper of these shoes features a soft and breathable knit fabric that hugs the feet in a compressive fit. With nylon backing, you can rest assured that it will provide the support and stability you need in a basketball shoe, while the lacing system allows you to customize how these feel when on. Although the KT3 features an ankle strap, it is there more for aesthetic reasons than functionality.
Cost and Value
Ranking significantly below average on this list when it comes to price, the KT3 is a great choice of basketball shoes if you are after good traction and a breathable but supportive upper. The EVA cushioning feels good, and the numerous color options ensure you get a stylish shoe that will definitely get you noticed.
- Low and high cuts available
- Supportive knit upper
- EVA cushioning
- Superior traction outsole
- Good for wide feet
- Ankle strap does not do much for the fit
- Some users don’t appreciate the heel to toe drop
5. Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017
Laces that tighten your upper foot are a thing of the past; Adidas’ lacing system is carefully designed to resemble the anatomical shape of feet. Because of this, the pressure from the laces is distributed evenly throughout the entire frame. This brings the materials closer together to provide you with just exactly the amount of support you’re looking for. Double loops assure a durable lifetime.
These basketball shoes feature one of Adidas’ most lauded technologies - the BOOST. Originally made for running shoes in order to provide ample energy return, BOOST has been incorporated in basketball footwear as well, enabling you to get explosive results with a little help from a styrofoam-like midsole that is three times as cushioning and durable as traditional EVA foam.
Cost and Value
While these basketball shoes do cost quite a bit compared to a regular pair of shoes, they rank average on this list given the fact that they are a pair of high-quality performance shoes which often go for much more. You’ll find that these are a great investment if you want a pair of basketball shoes with a breathable upper, a superior lacing system, and if you are a fan of Adidas’ BOOST.
- Seamless FUSEDMESH upper
- BOOST soles
- Unique anatomical lacing system
- Sock-like bootee construction
- Rubber Wraps the midsole
- Enhanced traction
- Lacks traction when used outdoors
- PrimeKnit version has low profile toe box
6. Under Armour Curry 4
The Curry 3 overall was a pretty bland shoe, that didn't really make the splash that it was hoping to. Thankfully that underwhelming response to the 3 spurred more effort to be put into the 4, and in turn, we now have a shoe with great traction and stopping power. The spacing design on the 4's outsole also reduces the amount of dirt and debris it picks up, keeping them cleaner and longer lasting.
Cushioning and Bounce
One of the biggest advancements the 4th version of the Curry saw over its predecessors was in cushioning. Less stiff, with considerable bounce and upgraded heel compression, this is a shoe that you will love to play basketball in. An added bonus is the fact that it features a thin midsole that gets you closer to the floor, giving you better control over your movement.
Cost and Value
The Under Armour Curry 4 ranks slightly below average on this list, and provides a solid performance and a great looking shoe. The More Magic colorway is definitely a good investment thanks to its looks and can serve double duty as a pair of basketball shoes that will provide you with a supportive fit and good traction.
- Internal knit sleeve
- Microfiber quarter paneling
- Underfoot speed plate
- Enhanced traction pattern
- Thin midsole for more control
- Need to be broken in
- Won’t do well on outdoor courts
7. Adidas Mad Bounce
The cushioning found in the Mad Bounce is a more firm version of Adidas’ famous BOOST. The BOUNCE is very responsive, and as its name suggests, provides the player with plenty of bounce that is great to have, especially during the last quarter when every ounce of strength counts towards a favorable result on the scoreboard.
Great for Outdoor Use
The Mad Bounce is one of the few flagship basketball shoes that do just as well on outside courts as they do on well-kept inside ones. An intricate traction pattern with deep grooves will ensure that you get a lot of wear with these shoes, giving you great grip. The one downside is the fact that the outsole does attract dust, so you will have to wipe it down from time to time to ensure a more sticky feel of the surface underfoot.
Cost and Value
Considering the fact that this is a basketball shoe that costs below average, you can safely decide to order it right now seeing the level of performance you will be getting out of it. With a great outsole, well-fitting upper and BOUNCE cushioning, this is one of those shoes that provide great bang for your buck.
- BOUNCE cushioning
- Great for outdoor courts
- FUSEDMESH upper
- Great lateral support
- Not suitable for wide feet
- Outsole will need regular wiping
8. Nike Kobe A.D.
While the upper of these shoes look like a regular mesh sneaker, the Flywire construction underneath provides excellent support and stability in order to give you that locked in feel without any heel slippage. The inner sleeve gives a sock-like feel that is snug and secure.
Made for one of the best b-ball players to date, the soles and cushioning in these shoes reflect the qualities of his game. While the heel features a Nike Zoom Air cushion, the outsole pattern allows for quick, multi-directional movements without having to worry about slipping or falling.
Cost and Value
This is an averagely priced shoe that is a great choice if you need something that is both lightweight and supportive. If you like a low top style, then this is definitely a great option, just make sure to opt for the solid outsole which performs better than its clear counterpart.
- Flywire support
- Breathable and lightweight
- Nike Zoom Air cushioning
- Multi directional traction outsole
- Excellent ankle and heel support
- Will need breaking in
- Runs narrow
9. Nike LeBron XV
The improvement of the Flyknit material makes it more resistant, flexible and stretchy than ever. Its evolution, the BattleKnit, is specifically engineered and design for the LeBron XV based on the performance and style of LeBron James himself. The fabric compresses your feet to the most optimal point, providing a completely locked-in feel throughout entire matches no matter how rough or fast you perform each motion.
These are the first shoes by Nike to use a combination of Max Air and Zoom Air cushioning. What this does is softens hard landings, but provides enough energy return for better speed development. All of this is done without sacrificing weight, while the multi-surface rubber outsole provides excellent non-slip performance.
Cost and Value
The LeBron XV is one of the best shoes available on the market and is a definite fan favorite both for its aesthetic appeal as well as its performance. It’s a big man’s shoe that does not weigh too much, and the comfort factor is brought to the max through a combination of Zoom Air and Max Air Cushioning and a BattleKnit upper. It ranks average on this list when it comes to price, which makes it a great choice of a flagship basketball shoe.
- Zoom and and Max Air cushioning
- BattleKnit Upper
- Seamless inner sleeve
- Multi-surface rubber outsole
- High-stretch ankle support
- Lack ankle support
- Not enough traction on poorly maintained courts
10. Nike LeBron Soldier XI
The Soldier XI basketball shoe contours your feet in a breathable and highly comfortable mesh that, despite being thin, compresses the foot and locks it down during performance. Furthermore, the closure consists of four individual elastic straps with a hook-and-loop closure system that will merge your foot with the boot. The innovative support system assures a locked fit throughout matches, training, and casual wear. It also leaves enough room to rotate and twist comfortably.
Nike knows how important it is to count with the right amount of cushioning when playing basketball. This is why the LeBron Soldier XI delivers exactly what you need to perform on the harsh court; the Nike Zoom Air technology acts as an air pillow that sits under your heel and the ball of your feet. This system is nearly weightless and reduces a considerable amount of stress from your feet when playing basketball.
Cost and Value
Ranking average on this list when it comes to price, the LeBron Soldier XI is still an excellent choice of basketball sneakers even after the release of its successor, the LeBron Soldier XII. This is mainly due to the Nike technology found in the soles and upper of this shoe, making it a beast on the court. A stylish design is just an added plus that is sure to turn some heads.
- Great ankle support
- Molded foam collar
- Lightweight and breathable
- Hook and loop closure
- Multi-surface outsole
- Prone to developing odors
- Some users found it heavy and bulky
11. Adidas Crazylight Boost
This shoe has BOOST energy-returning properties, just like any other Adidas flagship basketball shoe. Not only does it return energy, but ultimately it prolongs court performance. A Continental rubber outsole provides excellent floor grip, both in wet and dry conditions.
TPU Wrapped Mesh Upper
Despite being a low top shoe, the Crazylight Boost still provides excellent lateral stability thanks to the carefully constructed upper. Made out of breathable mesh that’s both lightweight and flexible, these shoes have TPU overlays which work to hug the foot, providing it with lateral stability that helps prevent sprains and rolled ankles.
Cost and Value
The Adidas Crazylight Boost is a great choice for players who want to focus on speed and mobility, seeing that it’s a low top shoe with plenty of energy return provided by the BOOST cushioning. Ranking below average on this list when it comes to price, it is also a good choice for the more dedicated enthusiasts who are looking for a high-quality basketball shoe.
- Adidas BOOST technology
- Continental rubber outsole
- TPU wrapped mesh upper
- Ventilated tongue
- Good for wet and dry conditions
- Are known to be a bit bulky
- Run slightly narrow
12. Reebok Shaq Attaq
Leather or mesh alone is not enough to provide the adequate amount of support and breathability, which is why this approach integrates both at the same time. The genuine leather makes the upper durable, stable, supportive and highly stress-resistant. At the same time, the integrated breathing mesh prevents the leather from isolating your feet in an overheating performance. To top it off, both compounds are superbly comfortable.
Great Sole Technology
Go lighter and faster than ever while remaining in absolute comfort and protection provided by the injected EVA midsole. Topped with an abrasion-resistant, intuitively patterned rubber outsole, these shoes do well to distribute pressure throughout the entire shoe, resulting in a speed-traction pattern on the heel and forefoot areas, analogized by easy-grip dots on the sides and tip of the outsole for smooth pivoting and lateral movement.
Cost and Value
The price of the Reebok Shaq Attaq ranks it average on this list, which makes these shoes a good choice if you’re looking for an alternative to the numerous styles by Nike and Adidas. A definite top contender when it comes to quality and performance, this pair of shoes is a great investment, plus, it will look great on the court and streets thanks to its fun retro design.
- Smooth traction and solid grip
- Intuitive weight-optimized technologies
- Breathable upper
- Lateral and pivot support
- Durable leather construction
- Not suitable for wide feet
- Leather at toe will easily crease
13. Nike Air Jordan XXXII
With the Air Jordan series, the XXXII particularly, you get much more from less. This means that the supportive qualities are enhanced while weight and volume are reduced. The highly breathable flyknit fabric allows air to flow absolutely free within the shoe – on top of that, it has a very soft touch and resembles the feel of a thin sock. The flyknit expands according to your feet, delivering a customized level of support.
Nike Zoom Air Cushioning
These shoes were made to give you some explosive force. The cushioning is lightweight, giving you responsiveness both in the heel and forefoot, while the front part of the shoe incorporates FlightSpeed technology. This allows the force of your landing to be evenly distributed, giving you maximum energy return for each next step and jump.
Cost and Value
The Air Jordan XXXII is the second most expensive pair of basketball shoes on this list, which comes as no surprise considering the popularity and quality of the Air Jordan line. It’s a definite top choice for those who plan on playing indoors, and in addition to being a great performance shoe, it’s also a strong fashion statement you might enjoy wearing as an everyday shoe.
- Flyknit upper
- Zoom Air cushioning
- FlightSpeed technology
- Multi-surface rubber outsole
- Foam padded heel and collar
- Made for hardwood floors
- Hard to clean outsole
- Best used on clean courts
14. Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation Mid
The Cloudfoam Ilation Mid sports a Cloudfoam sockliner and midsole. This makes an already lightweight shoe more awesome than it already was, by giving in the added cushioning and bounce it needs to perform well. Perforations are added along on the sides, making it easier for the foot to breathe and further lengthening play time, ridding of would be sweats.
Easy to Fit
One of the best things about the Ilation Mid is the fact that it comes in various widths, which makes it easier for users to choose a pair that will enable them to perform at the highest level. Additionally, leather is a material that does well with adapting to the foot, while the mesh on the collar and tongue greatly contribute to a pleasant wearing experience.
Cost and Value
The Cloudfoam is a nifty shoe and for the price, a darn good and near tough one to beat. Though it may not come in many styles, there is always someone who will sport it and rock the Adidas name. And if not for the style of it, the price will be sure to turn a few heads along the way.
- Affordable price
- Full grain leather upper
- Side perforations
- Cloudfoam liner and midsole
- Lightweight cushioning
- Does not have the best traction
- Can be squeaky
15. Adidas Dame 4
As much as basketball players would like, an upper build made entirely of mesh isn’t supportive enough. The Dame series gave birth to the combination of neoprene and mesh upper build, which delivers the breathability of mesh with the chemicals qualities of the highly resistant and supportive neoprene. This combination of compounds will mold around your feet creating the right fit for each user individually, allowing your feet to expand the upper to a completely natural position.
The BOUNCE midsole cushioning technology is just as effective at absorbing as it is at releasing. This cushioning system resembles Adidas’ signature BOOST technology, except it counts with a basketball-specific twist to achieve the most power on the hardwood court. The more effort you put into your performance, the more power you’ll get out of this midsole.
Cost and Value
This is a pair of basketball shoes that can be purchased for a price significantly lower than what is the average cost of a high performing shoe. This makes it a great option for those who are on a budget or are still trying to figure out what it is exactly that they want out of their shoes. With a great upper, excellent cushioning and solid traction, it’s quite likely this shoe will check all the boxes.
- Outsole inspired by Dame’s roots
- Neoprene minimalist collar
- Neoprene and mesh infused upper
- Perforations on upper
- BOUNCE technology
- All-white color is hard to clean
- Runs big
There you have it, our top 15 list of the best basketball shoes currently available for purchase. All of these basketball shoes are incredible and show that shoe technology will continue to evolve. From the LeBrons to the Jordans, to the Durants, there really is no wrong choice, however, all of these models feature aspects which might make them the right pair of basketball shoes for the type of player you are.
If you are a professional or even enthusiast player, you probably already know what you want out of a pair of shoes, so you’ll easily be able to make up your mind based on the styles we think are the best. If, however, you are a sneakerhead with a soft spot for b-ball shoes, then you’ll need more time to make your decision for the one pair that you’ll opt to make your own. Or who knows, maybe you’ll even decide to purchase a couple of these shoes, considering the fact that all of them look and feel great.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Basketball Shoes
High Standard Soles
How good a pair of basketball shoes is will greatly depend on the soles. Not only will a pair of high quality basketball shoes help to improve your performance with more effective speed, but they can also help prevent injuries. A shoe without a good pair of soles can lead to slipping and falling, or can result in ankle sprains that can have a significant impact on your game and career as a professional basketball player. Keep your eye out for basketball footwear that has rubber soles which will give traction that’ll prevent those dangerous slips and enhance your best moves. You should also pay attention to basketball shoes that have multi-directional traction patterns, as these are specifically designed to give you an amazing grip of the surface underfoot, enabling you to make those quick cuts that’ll shake defenders off of you.
A decent outsole must count with two things; a steady, firm grip and smooth traction. These two are very easy to confuse, and they’re commonly referred to as the same feature – which is wrong. In simple words, the grip is what allows you to hold yourself onto the surface, while traction is what determines the quality of the movement in relation to the surface.
Despite being two individual things, the grip and the traction must work together to deliver an optimal performance. An outsole that lacks either of them isn’t any good for basketball, as they’re both key parts of the sport.
The best basketball shoes must count with a grip that allows users to stop immediately, regardless of the speed they have and the direction they’re coming from. If you’re approaching the hoop fast and you want to go for a shot, it’s critical that the outsole grips the surface in a manner that it prevents your shoes from moving in any direction once you’ve stopped.
A cheap outsole will be defeated by your momentum, ultimately resulting in slippage or lateral swinging. In order to get a clean shot, any lateral impulse should be neutralized; you only want to move in a vertical dimension when going for the shot to obtain the most accuracy. Some shoes will grip efficiently to the floor when taking a shot or going for a cross-over but will fail to grip when performing quick and continuous movements. Variations of rubber, such as vulcanized rubber, have a slightly stickier surface and helps control fast and forceful motions.
Midsoles are the component responsible for most of the shock absorption process. This is why, in most cases, they’re the thickest and heaviest part of shoes. As you’ll know by now, basketball is a sport that involves a great amount of impact – running and jumping create a lot of shock. If this shock isn’t regulated, your joints, muscles, and bones will be severely affected; not only during the match but in the long run as well.
If you’ve ever had extremely sore heels the day after a basketball match, chances are you were using shoes that lacked a sufficiently absorbing midsole. From the moment of impact, the shock moves up from the surface. The first obstacle it will encounter is the sole, which is why it absorbs most of it. However, shock doesn’t stop there, and it is crucial that the insoles of your shoes have cushioning as well, so as to neutralize as much of the force as possible, saving your heels.
For many years, the default material for shock absorption was rubber, but new compounds are being created more and more by incorporating synthetic materials and options. These compounds are denser, meaning that they naturally contain more mass. By having more mass, these materials absorb shock more efficiently. Do note, however, that mass alone doesn’t guarantee shock absorption.
Any shoe that is meant for an impact sport should count with enough cushioning. Basketball is a practice that involves both consistent impact and a lot of aerobic action, which is why it’s paramount that our feet are adequately protected by the shoe when performing such activities. Cushioning plays an important role in this, and although it doesn’t deal with impact directly, it makes sure that the residual energy that wasn’t absorbed by the soles doesn’t do too much harm to your joints and muscles.
But, performance shoe cushioning isn’t only limited to protecting feet from residual impact energy. Basketball involves a large variety of very different movements which generate compression of the foot against the materials of the shoe. The cushioning materials found in your pair of basketball shoes also prevent your feet from damaging themselves against the materials of the shoe. The exteriors of basketball shoes are made to be tough and durable, and this often means that they will be too rough on the feet unless covered with a layer of protective cushioning. This can prevent damage caused on the feet, and will increase the level of comfort you feel when playing. If you find yourself wearing a pair of basketball shoes that lack in the cushioning department, you will find that you’ll experience greater levels of fatigue as your muscles, bones, and joints will be more exposed to impact and vibration.
At the same time, you cushioning isn’t something that should be overdone. Made of soft, comfy materials;, it will most likely lack the structure and support you need for a sport like basketball. You don’t want to miss out on cushioning, but having two pillows in your shoes will affect the stability and firmness of each motion.
Comfort and Fit
As with any pair of shoes made for performance, basketball shoes need to feel comfortable enough on your feet so as not to distract you from the task at hand. This includes a proper fit, as well as features designed to keep you feeling pleasant no matter the wear time. These features can be found both on the inside and the outside of the shoe, so make sure to carefully look at your preferred model before purchasing. Here are some aspects that you should consider:
Look for add ons such as a sockliner or a soft interior fabric to maximize the level of comfort you feel when you put on your basketball shoes. It is important that you also consider the width and length of the shoe, as both of these will be a huge determining factor. A shoe that is too loose will allow your foot to slip around; a shoe that is too tight will cause friction and irritation and can affect circulation.
If you really want the sole of your foot to feet good, then it is necessary to check out what the midsole is made of and how thick and bouncy it is. If you shoe lacks any bounce then you will have a stiff feeling that hinders your mobility. Too much bounce, and you lack that close to the ground feel that gives you maximum control.
The heavier the shoe the more it will slow you down, and this is true for every added ounce of weight. Depending on your size, opting for a lighter shoe can make a significant difference, and if you’re smaller in weight and stature then you want to look at low tops that are made with thinner materials. The bigger you are, the more you can go up in weight, but be conscious of how the shoe feels on your foot because as each minute on the clock ticks by that shoe will feel heavier.
Nothing takes away from your level of comfort quite like an on court injury, so help prevent that by opting for a shoe that gives you support where you need it most. If you have had prior ankle injuries, look for a shoe that gives you a tighter fit up top and supports you. Materials such as mesh may reduce weight and add breathability, but an all mesh shoe won’t do much in terms of support.
Basketball is a tough sport, which means that your feet will get hot and sweaty real fast. In order to minimize the risk of skin irritation and blisters occurring, opt for shoes which are breathable and allow for good airflow. Mesh or synthetic materials are great options, and they will often have the advantage of moisture wicking properties. Do note, however, that these materials lack structure and support. The best basketball shoes will have breathable panels in areas where heat concentrates most, such as the sides of the shoes, the top of the foot and the toe box.
Needless to say, an optimal fit is required in order to play basketball comfortably. The ideal fit is one that compresses your feet slightly in order to provide support, leaving just the slightest gap of space between your feet and the shoe that allows you to put them on. Another key element in determining the fit are the laces which need to be strong and dependable, making it possible for you to get the most support out of a pair of basketball shoes.
In order to obtain an optimal fit, there are a few key areas you should take not of:
- Toe Box: Make sure there is about a thumbs width of space between where your toes end and where the shoe ends. Any less, and your toes will be cramped and uncomfortable; more and there will be too much space and your foot will slide, opening you up to injury or discomfort.
- General Width: Your shoe should feel snug against the sides of your foot, but it should never compress your foot to the point where it’s in any way uncomfortable. Like a great hug, your foot should feel comforted, supported, and encased without any area being pinched. If you find synthetic shoes to be too tight on your foot, but good in length, try opting for a leather shoe instead. Leather will stretch and break in, giving you the correct length and allowing for some extra room to accommodate the width of your foot.
- Weight: If your shoes feel at all heavy when you try them on, they are going to be way too heavy to play in. The longer you wear shoes the heavier they feel, and that’s true for even the lightest of models. Make sure you’re picking a pair that is the right weight for your size, and is easy and light to walk around in.
- Heel Support: The fit on your heel should be the most snug part of the shoe, and ideally you want to feel like your heel is locked in place. This will help reduce injury to your feet, ankles, hips, and even back. Of course, you don’t want it overly tight, but the heel should not be moving around or lifting when you walk.
- Closure: The closures are what allow each user to compress the fit of the basketball shoe, and these can be laces, velcro straps, or traditional straps. When tying your shoes, notice how the laces pull the materials together around your feet. An efficient closure system is one that distributes the tension equally throughout the upper of the shoe. If, like most basketball players, you find yourself wearing mid or high top shoes, it is crucial that the entire closure system is firm, from the top of the shoe, all the way down to the tongue.
The flexibility of a basketball shoe is not an element, but rather a feature that must be present in each element of the shoe separately. When shopping for performance shoes, you must make sure that the frame, upper build, and the sole are flexible enough to practice sports with. Flexibility is the very base of most motions you can possibly make with your feet, and if your shoes lack it, you are opening yourself up to stress and tension, especially in the arch of the foot. Look for basketball shoes that offer flexibility in the soles, which will allow your feet to move naturally when running and jumping.
This is a feature that, like many others, should be present but not in excess. The flexibility of a material is inversely proportional to its support; meaning that as a shoe material gets more flexible it starts to lose its structure and fails to hold the foot in place.
As a basketball player, you probably know this better than any other athlete. Ankles are very susceptible to injury when playing an intense game. One wrong quick move with a lack of protection can put you at risk for a sprain that could severely limit you during the game, or potentially keep you from playing for awhile. A great basketball shoe will work to protect you from such injuries through features such as a high top, a well-molded collar or even a sock bootie.
At the same time, you don’t want the ankle support found in your shoes to restrain your movements. Support should only act as a feature that prevents your feet and ankle from assuming unnatural positions that may be hazardous injury-wise, or simply uncomfortable. Too much ankle support will prevent you from rotating freely and will considerably hinder your dribbling ability.
Basketball shoes come in low, mid and high top options, and the option you choose will affect how much support you will be getting in the ankle area. The higher the shoe, the better the ankle support, as you will have more material wrapped around the upper part of your ankle, which generally can be tightened or fastened to give you the right fit. The position you play will also make a big difference when it comes to which style you should choose, as each offers its own unique set of characteristics.
For positions that need more support, generally, because they need quicker pivoting for blocking, etc, a higher topped shoe is going to really allow you to move with more security and stability. When you need to be quick on the court, a low top will be lighter and give you more speed, and will also be a great option if you want moe more height on your jump.
Normally, performance shoes have a standard level of arch support which generally suits people who have no arch issues. Users that suffer from arch conditions such as flat feet or high arches, experience a considerably larger amount of stress on the arch – especially when performing sports. In these cases, it’s up to the user to solve this. The best choice, regardless of what your feet anatomy is, is to purchase customized insoles. In general, this is something all users with arch conditions must do, as they are unlikely to find a pair of basketball shoes that suit their specific condition. Even if the generic arch design of a shoe fits your anatomy, the best way to go is with an insole that perfectly supports the exact shape of your feet, including the arch. The foot arch is affected by flexion and aerobic performance; if on top of that you add stress generated by the lack of arch support, you’ll have a hard time. This is even more important in practices as active and forceful as basketball.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can basketball shoes make me jump higher?
A: Compared to some other types of shoes, you might find that basketball shoes allow you to jump higher. But in the end, the height of your jump comes down to the strength of your calves and legs.
Q: Can I casually wear basketball shoes on a regular basis?
A: Yes, you can wear basketball shoes casually. They’re generally designed to be comfortable for your feet, which is a benefit if your walking for long periods. In addition, basketball shoes can also make for a great stylish option when you’re going out.
Q: When do I replace my basketball shoes?
A: A strong indication you should replace your basketball shoe is if you find that your feet are starting to hurt after practice. You also may notice the bottom of your shoes starting to look old or really worn down. That’s another indication you should replace your basketball shoes as well. Wearing basketball shoes that no longer offer the right support and grip can lead to injury.
Q: Do basketball shoes make good running shoes?
A: No. Basketball shoes are specifically designed to give ankle support and maximum shock absorption to help with swift side to side movements along with quick stop and go movements. Basketball shoes also tend to be big and thick, so you won’t get the most effective stride in your steps that you could with the sleekness of running shoes.
Q: How to keep basketball shoes clean?
A: It’s suggested the best way to keep basketball shoes clean is to only wear them for playing basketball. However, if you do wear them daily, watch out for mud, and be cautious of how much they get scuffed. When you clean them, it’s important to clean the soles to continue to maintain traction. For a shoe that has leather, you need a special leather cleanser, but water and soap work fine for all other basketball shoes.
Q: What kind of basketball shoe do I need for outdoor courts?
A: The most important factor if you’re going to be using your basketball shoes for outdoor courts, is to get a shoe with the best traction. Playing basketball on outdoor courts puts more stress on the soles of the shoe. It would be particularly good to look for footwear with thick rubber soles and elaborate traction patterns so they’ll last longer for you.